Project Top Chef RU Episode #2: eifo

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Approved by EviGaro and Feliburn

Hello, and welcome to the second installment of Top Chef RU. I’m your host, btboy, and this series will focus on teambuilding in Gen 9 RU. Each installment will feature a prominent player in the community who will act as a guest celebrity chef. I will give them an ‘ingredient’ – in this context, a Pokemon – and they will be required to 'cook' a team with it.

The object of this series is not necessarily to challenge the builder, but to instead provide deep insight into their teambuilding process from start to finish. Rather than a synopsis of a finished product, we’re going to be looking at all the considerations a player makes as they construct their team. With that in mind, my goal as the host is to prompt our guest chef with a Pokemon that is both viable and interesting.

Just as a utility Pokemon like Mudsdale is not a compelling centerpiece of a team, some outclassed NU mon would restrict the builder and prevent us from seeing a practical and more organic process.

Ultimately, the goal of this project is to provide a more robust look at teambuilding. Each player has their own, unique way of building, and gaining insight into perspectives and thought processes that are different from our own can be both interesting and instructive.

Our guest chef will do most of the heavy lifting here. I am not interviewing them; I am merely providing them with a starting point and then moderating their stream of consciousness. It is not my place to provide suggestions or to ask leading questions, and I will only interject to ask for clarification or further elaboration. I am simply here to facilitate the documentation of their process and then organize the transcript at the end.

We had Feliburn with us in our first episode, and he'll be a tough act to follow, but I'm confident our next guest will be up to the challenge. Today we have 2022 RU Circuit winner and RU council member eifo with us. Welcome, eifo. Thanks for being here.

eifo: Thanks for having me.

btboy: Alright, last episode I gave Feliburn a fast offensive pivot and I'm gonna keep that theme going. Today, you will be building with Tornadus.

eifo: Tornadus is a difficult mon to build around, mainly because it doesn’t do much defensively apart from giving you a ground immunity and a frail fighting resistance. Consequently, it is very tempting to just go for a rain team or some hyper offense (HO) with Tailwind support. However, I have never been a huge fan of HO because I want my teams to be able to win in any given match up and HO is too vulnerable in this regard. I much prefer bulky offense (BO) builds, so I will take this route instead.

As for the Torn set, I think special Torn is far superior to physical Torn. Physical Torn sets
rely on Acrobatics as the STAB move, which means that you have to forfeit your item slot and make yourself weak to hazards, unless you use the tera on it. Given that using your tera comes with a great opportunity cost, I do not want to start by building around a tera reliant mon. As such, I shall instead be building around a special set.

btboy: What moves are you thinking?

eifo: Hmm, Torn is a highly customizable mon, so I do not intend on deciding all my moves quite yet. I suppose I could build around Nasty Plot Torn, but, to be honest, I dislike using breakers that rely on moves with low accuracy because they perform unreliably. So, I would rather use Torn as an offensive pivot, either with Bleakwind Storm / Heat Wave / Dark Pulse/ U-Turn or with Tailwind instead of one of the former moves. For now, however, it should suffice to give it Bleakwind Storm and U-Turn.

Alright, we have established that I will be building a BO around pivot Torn, but precisely what this BO will look like is largely dependent on what I choose for my second slot. You see, I typically start by building around a core of two mons, and then I use the final four slots to support the first two slots and patch up any glaring holes.

btboy: Could you elaborate on why you like to do this?

eifo: Sure, so basically, in my view, the first two slots are “free”, in the sense that you can use anything you want in these slots, provided that you spend the remaining slots on supporting your “free” slots. Sometimes I just slap together a quick six, of course, but ultimately this is rarely conducive to success. As I mentioned above, my goal is to build a team which can win versus anything, so I certainly do not want to automatically lose to any of the tier’s dangerous setup sweepers. Yet this is precisely what tends to happen when I just put some mons together. Covering all the various offensive threats, especially the set-up mons that abuse tera, requires quite a bit of thinking, which is why I think of the final four slots as “support” slots.

Although the second slot is “free”, I nevertheless prefer to pick a mon which has good synergy with the first mon. So, whenever I build BO, I usually start by picking two mons that function well together offensively. In other words, I start by picking an offensive core that I know is capable of reliably making progress, before then using the remaining slots to support the progress-makers. Additionally, I don't want to stack mons that provide little to no defensive utility, as I am looking to build BO rather than HO. So, for the next slot, I want a mon that can take advantage of the things which Torn tends to force in, while simultaneously providing some degree of defensive utility and being capable of making progress reliably.
btboy: Is there a specific mon that comes to mind?

eifo: Choice Banded Tauros-A fits this description perfectly. Torn tends to force in fat mons like Copperajah, Goodra, Iron Thorns, Naclstack, Sylveon, and Florges, all of which Tauros can outright OHKO or at the very least significantly weaken. Tauros also provides me with a form of speed control versus set-up sweepers in CB Tera Water Aqua Jet, while its defensive typing, strong natural bulk, and access to Intimidate lets it check a bunch of physical attackers if need be, most notably Krookodile, Tauros-B, Barraskewda, Floatzel, Revavroom, Weavile, and Grafaiai.
:sv/tornadus: :sv/tauros-paldea-aqua:
eifo: The third slot is pretty interesting because we can still take this team in various different directions. The one thing that I know for sure is that I always want to have a steel type, a volt switch absorber, a proper fighting resist, and sufficient speed control to check all the various set-up mons in the tier. There is not necessarily a particular order in which I fill in these slots, but for now, I want to focus on the volt absorber, and then we can return to the other slots later.

btboy: Why the volt absorber first?

eifo: Well, I like to have the volt immunity covered as early as possible because it often gets awkward to shoehorn it in later on. I never leave my rocker for the last slot, so Mudsdale, Palossand, and Whiscash are not really relevant. This leaves me with very few options, namely Kilowattrel and Krookodile (or Jolteon, but it is too reliant on tera for my tastes). Sometimes, these mons simply don't fit the team too well. In other words, I find it easier to tailor the team to fit the volt immune, rather than vice versa.

Anyway, given how common volt-turn is, you must have a volt absorber. In this case, I want to use my own Kilowattrel, for two reasons. Firstly, much like Torn, Kilo brings in mons that Tauros matches up well versus. Secondly, and most importantly, Kilo's speed lets it check other fast mons such as opposing Torn, Delphox, and Intelleon, all of which pose a big threat to offense with their speed tier and power.

:sv/tornadus: :sv/tauros-paldea-aqua: :sv/kilowattrel:

btboy: When you build offense, are you thinking about accounting for offensive threats more than defensive threats?

eifo: Well, the short answer is yes. A well-built offensive team can usually overwhelm a defensive team, especially in a meta such as this one, where tera makes defensive counterplay less reliable than in past gens by letting mons break through their pre-tera checks and counters. Conversely, it is far more difficult to prepare for offensive threats, and, if you fail to do so, you will get punished for it.

Granted, most metas are not as kind to offense or as cruel to defense as this one. It also helps that I begin the building process by picking a core of mons that is able to reliably make progress versus any given build. So, in that sense, I suppose I do worry about defensive threats, I just do so early on in the building process, whereas I spend the latter stages worrying about how to patch up my match-up versus rain, set-up sweepers, and fast breakers.

btboy: What about Brambleghast? At this point it looks pretty annoying for you.

eifo: I think many of our defensive mons, especially Brambleghast and Altaria, are overrated. Sure, on paper, they may look annoying for a core of Torn, Kilo, and Tauros-A. In practice, however, they are rather passive and vulnerable to getting overwhelmed, so I am not all that worried about them. Wave Crash 3HKOs both of them, so they have to recover after taking a hit from Tauros in order to switch in again later. But if they click Roost or Strength Sap, then they give me a free turn to do whatever I want. And if they Rapid Spin or Defog, then they stay in range of a 2HKO from Wave Crash without me even needing to tera. Further, because they have such pitiful damage output, I don't really care that much about a potential Brave Bird, Shadow Ball, or Power Whip, all of which are easily absorbed by my support mons. Over time then, even if I don't click tera water to immediately break Bramble or Stone Edge to catch Altaria, the odds are nonetheless stacked in my favor.

That being said, it would be stupid for me to completely write them off and have my Torn and Kilo be walled by Bramble. Consequently, I will opt for Dark Pulse rather than Heat Wave on Torn, while I will be running Tera Blast ice on Kilo. Dark Pulse still hits Bronzong and opposing Kilo just as hard, while also giving me increased accuracy and the chance to flinch versus Delphox, Mismagius, and Oricorio-Sensu. It might not do as much as Heat Wave to Copperajah or Klefki, but I do have the option of clicking U-turn versus them into Tauros or Kilo, so that's not too bad. As for Kilo, Air Slash could also work, but ultimately I prefer Tera Blast because it also lets Kilo break opposing Kilo, Mudsdale and Krookodile, whereas Air Slash does pitiful damage versus them.

However, I do not want Kilo to be too reliant on tera, so I will opt for U-turn rather than Volt as my pivot move of choice, while I will use Roost as my fourth move. This way, Kilo can switch into Altaria, Torn, and Mowtom somewhat reliably and pivot out into a breaker of my choice.
btboy: Alright, so what’s next?

eifo: Alright, at this point we have ourselves a core with two fast pivots and a strong breaker. The role of the pivots is mainly to gain and retain momentum, whereas the breaker is supposed to be making progress, especially early-game when the walls are healthy. So, in an ironic twist, the team is centered around Tauros-A rather than Torn, for the simple reason that Tauros is a more potent progress-maker. Torn will be playing more of a supportive role, especially versus fatter teams, as it just isn’t that good at breaking past our special walls. Granted, versus more offensive teams, Torn and Kilo can often make significant progress of their own.

For the next two slots I want a rocker, a steel type, and a fighting resist. I could choose to go with a bulkier route and use some form of fat steel type rocker paired with a solid fighting resist, such as Copper or Bronzong paired with Sylveon or Florges. However, for this team I want to go with a more offensive route, hence I will instead opt to use SR Mesprit.

:sv/tornadus: :sv/tauros-paldea-aqua: :sv/kilowattrel: :sv/mesprit:

btboy: Why a rocker first here? I know Mesprit fills the role of fight resist, but you start considering rockers first. Why?

eifo: Hmm, well, we have a larger and more diverse pool of fighting resists to choose between, so I find it much easier to choose the rocker first and then pick a fighting resist afterwards.

btboy: Since you already have two Flying-types, I assume you’re just looking for a sturdier fight switch-in?

eifo: Yes. Both get 2HKOd by tera fighting CC from common threats like Choice Scarf Tauros-A, Tauros-B, Passimian, and Heracross, so I need a proper resistance to deal with those.

Nevertheless, in this case, my rocker and fighting resist are one and the same. But because it has to fill both of these roles, I am not comfortable with using an offensive rocker set with Psychic, Ice Beam, and U-turn. This set would let it reliably set and keep SR up, as it beats all the removers in the tier with Psychic and Ice Beam, while U-turn lets it bring in breakers such as Tauros-A. However, for this team, I need it to fulfill a slightly different role. At this point, my team is relatively frail, so I would rather use a more defensive spread on Mesprit. Further, while Ice Beam is valuable, Healing Wish (HW) has more utility for a more offensive team, especially because my primary wallbreaker in Tauros-A often kills itself with hazard damage and recoil. Consequently, I will be using a phys def Mesprit with SR, Psychic, HW, and U-turn, with enough speed to outrun max speed Adamant Brute Bonnet. I will also give it water as its tera typing so that it can tank a hit in a pinch versus Delphox, Salazzle, Tauros-B, Tauros-A, Barraskewda, Floatzel, Cetitan, Cloyster, Intelon, or tera water Revavroom in Rain.

btboy: Why are you worried about these mons at this point in the build?

eifo: Right, this may seem somewhat early, and I will indeed revisit all my tera choices when I have filled in the remaining two slots. However, in my experience it is always difficult to cover the aforementioned mons defensively, especially for offensive builds such as this one, so the more tools I have to deal with them the merrier. Just look at Inteleon or Salazzle, who both outspeed and 2HKO everything except for Kilowattrel, which is thankfully faster. Or take Scarf Delphox, which outspeeds and 2HKOs all my mons. And don't even get me started on the rain breakers. Now, for the most part, I will be able to check these mons offensively. However, a tera water could potentially save me in an end game where I need to tank a hit.
eifo: Ok, so at this point I really need a steel type. I could still use a CM Iron Defense Bronzong or a Whirlwind Protect Copperajah, but both of those are somewhat passive, and at this point I am going all in on momentum.

btboy: How do you balance these elements of building? Are there ever instances in which you’d opt for passive mons on BO? If so, what makes opting for momentum more compelling here?

eifo: Good question. The short answer is no. But this answer is also a bit misleading. You see, I actually think that the fundamental distinction between Bulky Offense and Balance is that Bulky Offense only uses proactive mons, whereas Balance uses a combination of passive and proactive mons. Thus, the very notion that a passive mon could fit on Bulky Offense would be false by definition.

That being said, we should also distinguish between different degrees of passivity.

:sv/umbreon: :sv/vaporeon: :sv/sylveon:
Wish passers such as Umbreon, Vaporeon, and Sylveon are very passive, in the sense that they are easy to wall and to take advantage of. Granted, Yawn lets them discourage set up and force some switches, while CM lets them break some stuff if their answers have already been removed from the game. Still, they are much too passive to fit on what I call BO.

:sv/brambleghast: :sv/altaria: :sv/florges:

Other walls such as Bramblegast, Altaria, and Florges are also fairly passive, albeit slightly less so than the wish passers, partly because they only need one turn to recover their health, and partly because they have an additional moveslot that they can use for more proactive purposes. In the case of Bramble, this means setting Spikes. As for Altaria, it can either Perish Trap its opponents or spread burns. And with regard to Florges, it can use Tera Blast water or ground to hit steels, poisons, and fires, thereby making it far better at making progress than a Wish Protect Sylveon. But nevertheless, I would usually refrain from using such mons on BO, given that Florges is very reliant on tera to not be passive, whereas Alt and Bramble still have pitiful damage output.

:sv/copperajah: :sv/bronzong:

Finally, we have now arrived at the mons that I initially referred to as “somewhat passive”, namely Copperajah and Bronzong. Both of these mons can fit on Bulky Offense, but only as “semi-proactive” rockers. What I mean by this, is that these mons are capable of setting SR while also threatening some immediate pressure with their other moves. Copperajah may not be a stellar breaker, but it does do a fair chunk to most mons with either Heavy Slam, Iron Head, or Earthquake, thereby making it somewhat proactive. Bronzong, for its part, can Trick away a Toxic Orb to cripple walls, hazard removers, and set-up sweepers, while it also does consistent albeit not impressive chip with Night Shade, so it is also somewhat proactive. But again, I would not use these mons on BO if I do not use them as rockers, as I would rather use my non-rocker slot on even more proactive mons. This is not to say that Protect Whirlwind Copperajah or CM Iron Defense Bronzong are bad mons, but rather that they require a sturdier defensive backbone alongside them to function well, i.e. they fit much better on balance.

By excluding Copperajah and Bronzong, I am left with two options for my steel type: Klefki and Revavroom. We do technically have access to Orthworm, too, but I don't like It.

btboy: Why not?

eifo: It may have a cool ability and access to Spikes, but I dislike how frail it is on the special side, how slow it is, and how pathetic its damage output is.

So, option one is to pick Klefki. While Klefki admittedly also has lackluster bulk and pitiful damage output, it makes up for its flaws by providing the team with a reliable spiker, Prankster Thunder Wave for additional speed control, and Switcheroo Toxic Orb to cripple fat walls and set up mons such as Oricorio-S, Oricorio-B, Florges, Sylveon, etc. However, I do not have any mons on my team that are capable of removing Heavy Duty Boots (except for Klefki itself), nor will I be able to fit such a mon in the last slot, so Spikes are not as effective on this team as they normally would be. I also lack strong hitting physical attackers on my team, apart from Tauros-A, which makes me somewhat vulnerable to CM mons even if I have the ability to Switcheroo them a Toxic Orb. They could, after all, bait the Trick, while Tauros-A is easily weakened between hazards and recoil, even if I do have access to HW support. With this in mind, I think Revavroom would be better here.

:sv/tornadus: :sv/tauros-paldea-aqua: :sv/kilowattrel: :sv/mesprit: :sv/revavroom:

btboy: What set?

My immediate idea is to use Shift Gear (SG) Revavroom with tera water Tera Blast. SG Rev has pretty good synergy with Torn and Kilo because they tend to force in fairies that Rev can set up versus. It also greatly benefits from the HW support provided by Mesprit, which gives it several opportunities to set up with full health. In addition to this, it is one of the best mons in the tier at abusing tera. With tera water, Revavroom gets even more set up-opportunities, as it can set up on fires and waters, in addition to steels and fairies pre-tera, while Tera Blast gives it good coverage for Salazzle, Arcanine, Coalossal, Iron Thorns, Krookodile, Copperajah, opposing Rev, Mudsdale, and Palossand. Opponents also have to respect the prospects of tera ground and tera grass, which makes it even more of a pain to deal with for them and thus twists the odds further in my favor.

However, SG Rev does come with the drawback that it is outsped by lots of mons pre-SG. Delphox, Kilowattrel, Salazzle, Inteleon, Mismagius, etc. can all be problematic for me to handle, so I have to consider whether it is okay for me to use a mon that is slower than them. This makes me think of Choice Scarf Rev, which would give me additional speed control and Parting shot for momentum, while still providing me with insurance versus CM Florg and Sylv with its stabs, in addition to crippling Vap, Muds, and Palossand with Toxic. But at the same time, SG Rev is far better at making progress, more effective at exploiting tera offensively and defensively, and it is more difficult to take advantage of than a choice-locked Rev, so on this team I think SG is better. I will also be giving Rev Air Balloon to protect it from Spikes, Tera Blast Florges, and Earthquake from Krookodile, Iron Thorns, and Mudsdale.
btboy: And last but not least?

eifo: My final slot is far easier to fill. At this point I have no pre-tera fire resist and I rely too much on Tauros-A for speed control. This leaves me somewhat vulnerable versus opposing SG Rev, Salazzle, Delphox, Oricorio-B, and Oricorio-S, to name a few. The two Oricorios with tera water would be particularly problematic for me to deal with given that they resist Aqua Jet from Tauros-A. I could admittedly tera my Tauros-A to shed the flying weakness versus Oricorio, but it still needs to be almost at full to tank a boosted Hurricane. Aqua Jet is likewise insufficient versus Rain teams, who also pose a big threat to me. So, rather than relying on Tauros-A to solve all my problems, I need another mon which provides me with additional speed control in the form of strong priority, while ideally also providing me with some useful resistances. The only mon which fits this description is Arcanine.

:sv/tornadus: :sv/tauros-paldea-aqua: :sv/kilowattrel: :sv/mesprit: :sv/revavroom: :sv/arcanine:

btboy: You’ve been pretty vocal about your love for Arcanine in the RU Discord. Can you talk about why you like it so much?

eifo: Arcanine is a criminally underrated mon. Tera normal Extreme Speed lets it function as a potent late game cleaner while also giving me a form of priority to hit tera water Oricorio, Revavroom, Inteleon, Floatzel, etc. Ironically, this makes it a very useful mon to have versus rain, despite its pre-tera typing. Arcanine also gives me access to Will-o-Wisp, which it can use to cripple Primeape, Rev, Musdale, Krookodile, Tauros-A, etc. This in turn makes life easier for my own Rev, and, conversely, Arcanine appreciates how Rev is able to weaken fat grounds and waters. Further, Arcanine gives me an additional fire and fairy resistance, thereby improving the matchup versus Delphox, Salazzle, Sylveon, and Florges. The only issue I have with adding Arcanine is that double Intimidate can be awkward versus Passimian and Primeape, but given that I already have three fighting resists, two of which outspeed Primeape, while the third is a fat Psychic type, my match-up should be alright versus both of them.
btboy: Alright, you’ve got your six, but the team isn’t quite finished. How are you gonna tie this off?

eifo: Now that the team is ‘complete’, we can finally return to Torn and decide on its fourth move. While I tried my best to build a bulkier volt-turn offense build, I must concede defeat and add Tailwind as my fourth move. The additional speed control is simply too useful. Tailwind gives me yet another tool versus SG Rev and QD Tera Water Oricorio-Sensu/Baile, as Tauros-A, Kilowattrel, and Arcanine all outspeed them even at +2 Speed. It also greatly improves the Rain matchup by letting the very same mons to outspeed all the Swift Swimmers with the exception of Barraskewda (and Floatzel in the case of Tauros-A). On top of this, Tailwind gives my Tauros-A more opportunities to make progress mid-game and makes it easier to clean up in the end-game.

btboy: Makes sense. It’s a cool technique for sure. You mentioned earlier that you’d revisit the tera types at the end.

eifo: Yes, but on this team I see no reason to change them. The only thing I am wondering about is whether I should go tera water, dragon, or dark on Torn. Dark would let it be immune to Prankster, resist Scarf Crunch from Krook, and power up Dark Pulse, whereas water and dragon enables it to live a hit versus most offensive water and fire types. Dragon also lets it resist electric and grass, so I suppose that might be even better here. It should suffice for now, at least, but I am open to changing it if another tera works better in testing.

This brings me to the final stage of the building process: the testing stage. The team is not fully complete until it has undergone a great deal of testing and tweaking. If there is one thing I want you to get away from this, it is the importance of specifically tailoring your mons to fit your particular team. Many players have a tendency to use a “standard” set for a particular mon. In other words, they use the exact same stat spread and the exact same moves on a given mon, irrespective of what the rest of the team looks like. However, when it comes to sets and spreads, there is no such thing as a universal best set. There is always room for optimization. Thinking through what hits you wish to live and which moves you value more gives you a better understanding of how you ought to play different match-ups, which in turn lets you tweak the team to improve the match-ups that would otherwise be unwinnable. Testing and adjusting the build is thus of great importance.
If you have any comments or questions for eifo, be sure to let him know below!
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Hi! I have a question.

How do you decide if you need to fit hazard removal on a team or not?
Great question!

The short answer is that it depends. Whether I feel the need to fit removal is contingent on multiple factors, the most important of which are 1) whether I can afford to waste momentum on removing hazards, 2) to what degree hazards punish my team, and 3) how reliable the removal options are.

Take HO as an example. In my view, HO never wants removal. Indeed, HO aims to overwhelm the opponent by means of applying offensive pressure. But by removing hazards, you are doing the opposite of applying pressure - you are giving away momentum to your opponent. Given that HO heavily relies on momentum, and that such builds have little to no defensive backbone to fall back on, they do not want to waste turns on removing hazards. Ergo, you are always better off dropping removal on HO.

I approach BO in a similar but slightly different way. BO builds are not quite as dependent on momentum as HO because they have some degree of defensive backbone to fall back on. This means that you have wiggle room to fit removal if need be. However, BO is still fairly reliant on momentum, hence you do not want to waste turns on removing hazards unless you absolutely have to. And you absolutely do not want to use Defog on BO, as Defog is an inherently passive move that forfeits both momentum and progress (in the form of your own hazards). This leaves us with the option of Rapid Spin, which, to be sure, could be used under certain circumstances, namely if you wish to use other items than boots. However, our spinners are somewhat unreliable, in the sense that they are fairly easy to spinblock, so it is oftentimes in your interest to simply forego removal and focus on overwhelming the opponent. This is particularly true for teams that have Spikes of their own, as such teams can simply aim to win the hazard war instead.

But the way I approach fatter, more slow-paced builds differs drastically from how I approach fast-paced builds. In my view, slow-paced teams typically want reliable removal (i.e. Defog), for several reasons. Firstly, hazards are much more likely to go up versus fatter builds, Whereas HO and BO can either deny or limit hazards by means of offensive pressure, balance builds and stall do not have this option, and, as such, they will be playing with hazards up unless they remove them. Secondly, fatter builds force games to last for longer, which makes them prone to losing their items through Knock Off, Trick, and Switcheroo, thereby increasing the impact of hazards. Thirdly, fat builds rely on answering threats defensively. This is especially true for Stall, which aims to win the game by slowly whittling down the opposing team. Taking hazard damage greatly impedes their ability to wall things, so you really do not want hazards to be up, especially if you lose your boots, which is likely to happen over time. Thus, in order for stall to function properly, you must have some form of reliable removal, i.e. Defog. That being said, I acknowledge that it is possible to build alright balance builds without Defog given that such structures can be played relatively proactively if need be, but personally I dislike relying too much on boots and/or Rapid Spin on fatter structures.

Finally, and this probably goes without saying, but building in metas without boots is completely different. Such metas are far more demanding of the builder. I won't go too much into detail about this here, but suffice to say that almost all teams want removal in BW/ORAS/SM, with the exception of HO and certain spikestack BO builds.
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